Today, ESPN’s Keith Law released his ranking of every MLB team’s farm system. Naturally, the Cubs came out on top followed closely by the Minnesota Twins. In the next few weeks, I will be previewing the Cubs highest four farm teams – Iowa, Tennessee, Myrtle Beach, and South Bend. A fifth preview of Eugene will take place this summer when their roster is announced. I originally wanted to begin publishing these posts last weekend, but Ernie was a little bit more important.
Two posts are already written and ready to go. I will start out this weekend with the Tennessee Smokies and Myrtle Beach will follow the week after. Each team preview will focus on possible starting position players, the starting rotation, and the bullpen. Development will be the key focus of each player profile. Additionally, possible breakout prospect candidates will be discussed.
Earlier this off season, I profiled 5 prospects who might break out in a big way in 2014. Based on just two team profiles, I could add another 10 more. Names like Trey Martin, Gioskar Amaya, Tayler Scott, Jonathan Martinez, Chesny Young, and Victor Caratini dot the previews of Tennessee and Myrtle Beach along with top prospects including Albert Almora, Kyle Schwarber, and Duane Underwood. In addition, recently injured players like Dylan Cease, Brad Renner, and Dillon Maples will be a part of the discussion and who knows if they will be at South Bend, Tennessee, or Myrtle Beach.
Putting together the Tennessee Smokies and the Myrtle Pelicans possible rosters came easily. Most of the Kane County and Daytona rosters just moved up one level. However, when it comes to Iowa and South Bend, those rosters are going to be hard to pin down. Iowa, for example, could have many roster permutations based on who makes the 25 man roster for the Chicago Cubs. South Bend’s roster will have a mixture of players who were at short season Boise and the Cubs’ team in the Arizona Rookie League. I have some names who I think will be at South Bend and then I have names who I would like to go to South Bend. There’s a huge difference between who I would like to see at South Bend versus what is best for the player’s development.
Last year’s previews had the titles of Minor League Merry-Go-Round, The Future is Near, The Rotating Pitching Rotation, and Waves of Pitching. This year’s titles are Pit Stops, Bombs Away, Welcome to the Organization, and Big Leaps. Stay tuned for their release!
Also, here are a few random notes…
- Yoan Moncada – he could be declared a free agent any day. As a result, his odds of signing with the Cubs on July 2 just sunk. However, there is always Sterling Heredia to hope this summer as it looks like Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., has a deal with Toronto.
There are still a couple of Cuban free agents the Cubs could sign including one of Jorge Soler’s former Cuban junior national teammate and best friend, outfielder and switch hitting center fielder Guillermo Heredia. Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote of his past:
As a 21-year-old in the 2011-12 season, Heredia broke through by hitting .343/.439/.527 in 443 plate appearances and winning a Gold Glove award […] He’s a plus defender. He runs well, gets quick jumps off the bat and has good range to go with a strong arm. The question mark scouts have is on his bat. Heredia had been a switch-hitter, but last season he stopped hitting from the left side, making him the rare lefthanded thrower who hits only righthanded.
- Another Cuban, 2B Andy Ibanez is also on the market. Badler also describes Ibanez’s talents:
At 5-foot-10, 183 pounds, Ibanez doesn’t have one standout tool but he’s an athletic player who won a Gold Glove during his rookie year in 2011-12 and has posted solid offensive numbers given his age, including a .267/.377/.435 line with more walks (33) than strikeouts (28) in 280 plate appearances this past season for Isla De La Juventud. Given his current talent level, Ibanez, who turns 22 in April, would likely start his career either in high Class A or Double-A.
In addition, he was also a former teammate of Soler and Heredia.
However, only Heredia is above age and does not fall under International Free Agent signing restrictions.
4. The Cubs will still likely make a few more moves before the season starts. I just don’t know if they will be a signings or trades. With Castillo, Travis Wood, and Jackson still on the roster, anything is possible. With the all the bullpen arms like Bueno, Ortiz, and Germen, the Cubs are going to have a lot of competition in Mesa in the bullpen and other places. At some point, someone has to go somewhere.